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Canoeing on the River: Excitements and Pleasures of a trip down the Upper St. John

Introduction  Page 1  Page 2  Page 3  Page 4  Page 5

The canoes were taken up in the train and when the Grand Falls station was reached a team was procured to haul to the basin below the falls the big wooden canoe or boat that Mr. Phillips had brought along. The broad-shouldered, muscular guides picked up the other three canoes-canvas-swung them lightly over their heads and walked the half mile or more to the water's edge with as little concern as if they were carrying an ordinary valise into a hotel.

New Brunswickers themselves and all visitors to the province should see these falls, the grandest, excepting only Niagara, found east of the Mississippi. They can be seen in comfort by the tourists, for the town boasts a first class hotel, the Curless, recently greatly enlarged, improved and thoroughly modernized. The falls themselves are most beautiful, and can be seen to splendid advantage from the quaint suspension bridge that spans the gorge in front of them,Click to view full-size image - 26KB or if a nearer view is wanted, from the rocks against which the raging waters beat in unceasing fury. The main fall is almost perpendicular and somewhat wider at the top than at the base. The river, running for 218 miles from its source and swollen by many tributaries, is of a very considerable size at Grand Falls, and there is an enormous volume of water thundering over the precipice and beating upon Split Rock at the base seventy-five feet below, sending high in the air a huge column of spray that hangs before the falls like a beautiful curtain, and from which the sun's rays on a clear, bright day scintillate, lighting up the rocks with many colors. On the right hand side the water comes over the brink in a thin curtain, a beautiful sight, but when the water is very low there is only the main fall. At the left it is possible to climb down so close to the falls that one is drenched with the spray, and from this point of vantage one of the best views of the great fall is obtained.

The water races away from the falls through a narrow and rocky gorge Click to view full-size image - 60KB almost a mile long to the smooth waters of the lower basin. The gorge, the walls of which rise almost perpendicularly from 80 to 150 feet, is in some respects wilder and more picturesque even than that at Niagara, and through it the waters rush with terrific force. One cannot conceive of any human being attempting, as had been done at Niagara, to run these rapids in a barrel or any other contrivance, so wild is the torrent and so rough the shores. In the Niagara gorge there are small coves, in which these is slack water that venturesome lads sometimes swim, but at Grand Falls the water tears along in its mad fury washing the edge of the rocks and giving no opportunity for even the most daring to take liberties with it.

At several points it is possible to climb down from the high bank to the water's edge, and this climb, difficult as it is, well repays the sightseer, for it gives a better idea of the force and violence of the water than can be got from the bridge or banks, and it shows Pulpit rocks,Click to view full-size image - 94KB the wells and the other wonderful features of this wonderful gorge. The wells, of which there are dozens are holes big and little, worn in the solid rock presumably by stones turned and twisted by the current in the days when the gorge was in process of erosion.The largest of these wells is 16 feet in diameter and 30 feet deep. At freshet time the rocks in which these wells are located are covered by a surging, swirling mass of water. Everywhere the banks are steep, and in some places almost perpendicular. Near the falls is the Coffee Mill, a cove into which the current sets many of the logs that come over the falls. Seen about the first of the month, the Coffee Mill was an immense pile of logs -- a million feet, one of the guides said there was in the hole.

Additional Scenes from the upper St. John River...

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More historical images of New Brunswick...

Introduction  Page 1  Page 2  Page 3  Page 4  Page 5